Rembrandt is more often compared to writers than painters. He has been likened to Shakespeare in England and Dostoyevsky in Russia for his explores of human character under extreme strain and stress, be it a brush with death or burial under cornucopia’s gifts. That might be true, but for me he is more of a philosopher with prophetic insights into the social order that would flourish many centuries later.
He craved for recognition when he was young, and for money, when he got recognised and bankrupt. At the time, group portraits were as good a commission in the protestant Amsterdam as an altarpiece in Rome, so the order from the Textile Guild was a godsend.
This is a group portrait of the so-called syndics of the cloth merchants’ guild, or people who ruled the textile trade in the Netherlands, using the subtle tools of quality control. They were a powerful group intricately linked…
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Hey Mr. Tambourine Man
The first time he saw her was on her death bed. Many of his first times with any stranger would be on their death – be it on the bed, on the road, in the water, on a barren land with bloodied soil. Some deaths were peaceful, some violent. Some came as such a shock that it didn’t let any of the vessels acknowledge the inevitable.
But along this stretch of time – for seconds, minutes, hours, days, years, etc., did not hold meaning when one were in his profession – he would always find himself wondering one simple question.
Was it possible for anyone to die of loneliness?
How long had he been living till now? Or how long had he been dead? What was life and death when you were the collector of Souls? Whatever it may be, this girl splayed on white linen sheets in a plain lonely room was dying of loneliness.
He knew, if he had a heart, it would ache. What was a heart anyway? What was anything?
He did not know who these children (in human years, his age was unfathomable) were until he touched their Souls. For by letting him touch them, they were giving themselves to him as well. Binding themselves to his very essence. After all, he was the accumulation of all the Souls he carried.
So it is only natural for us to assume that he did not know who she was. Not even her name – a thing most odd among humans, as if a name held the life of a person. And it was this unknowability that drove him to do something he hadn’t done for millennia. She was so young that he was sure that she herself did not know who she was yet. And to not know oneself was the saddest aspect of human existence. Most of the people he carried knew at least some aspect of their essence. And there were some like her in that they were too young to find out, but different in that they did not create a longing in him like she did. A longing to know the “what ifs” of the human journey.
You see, Time was a concept beyond which he lived. It held no significance for he Was, Is and Will Be. Nothing could change that. And for a person against whom Time had no hold, he could leap through the gates as he wished. And this time, he had leapt forward. Well, forward in her World. For Time had no hold, so what was forwards and backwards?
Hovering over her bed as he delicately reached out for her pale fingers, her coughs dying out in the background, he couldn’t help but think just how pitiful her existence must have been.
To have no one.
It was something he was all too familiar with. It was something he had forgotten (for he remembered that he was once a human – a sort of vague memory that now faded away into oblivion).
It was impossible for him to identify himself with her. He was Otherwordly in human terms. But there was something about her that gave him the feeling of contentment. And so to extend the period of that effervescent feeling, he decided to leap backwards and offer a push in the right direction.
Here is a small poem I found in a book I’ve been reading for my exam. I couldn’t help but share it here. All rights go to Smita Agarwal (the poet) and the Oxford University Press! Soo many Indian women poets and hardly any readers.
(For Jeanette Winterson)
My eyes lick them off the page;
I chew them, suck the juices,
Let the flavours seep in. I am
The dreamer; words, the cocoon
I knit. Fixed for ever in the
Slim gap between alphabets
I am the saboteur, the hit-man.
Words scurry down dark lanes
Or brightly lit streets. I rip
Off masks, bequeath new skin,
Dragoon words into birthing
Faces never before born.
Now don’t tell me that the writer in yourself does not connect with it.
It was in the year 2012 that my family (myself included) moved from Chennai to Mumbai. My memory is questionable, but while unpacking boxes, I came across old encyclopedias and books and in most of them had random tidbits written all over! My sisters and mom always tell me that I was quite the trouble-maker and that I had the uncontrollable habit of writing, not scribbling, on anything and everything I came across – my victims would often be any kind of book. As long as it had a small amount of empty space, I was set to write anything – be it a word, a sentence or a whole paragraph or nonsense. I guess that was the start of my writing streak.
I cannot remember the first time I gained the interest, but I do remember that I loved reading books. Those very books are the reason I started writing. Reading every story, every word increased my jealousy of the author’s ability. I wanted to make people feel the way I wanted them to feel; I wanted them to think that the world in my book was the only world that existed; I wanted them to be sucked in, undergo the same trials and tribulations, feel things they couldn’t fathom and towards the end, render them speechless.
I began writing stories after stumbling upon FanFiction.net. After reading hundreds of stories written by individuals who were just like me, I was inspired. My first story was a FanFic and it unplugged something in me. I could no longer stop thinking, could no longer cease various ideas from popping in my mind. I felt wonderful.
I can’t call myself the best writer out there; and I can hardly find the time I need to write these days. I haven’t read a book in a while and I’m beginning to think that I’m forgetting the language. It’s scary, but I’ve started taking the effort to write down things that wisp by, even if they are two words, or one sentence; anything to prevent my writing from deteriorating even further. Hopefully, it’s working and hopefully, I’ll go back to the way I used to write but better. I need to keep telling myself that I am a writer and everything will be okay … right?
I’ve been feeling odd lately. Odd since the beginning of the new semester. Instead of feeling closer, I feel that I have unconsciously distanced myself from my friends. Or maybe they’ve distanced themselves from me?
I panic sometimes. Panic that someday they’re going to leave me for better friends. I can’t help but get this feeling of alienation, so much so that I find myself clinging onto them sometimes, that sometimes, they just ignore me and discuss among themselves.
Am I paranoid?
I felt now was the time to contact you regarding my experiences with the immigration process into the UK. I have found it to not only be a lengthy, expensive and complicated process; but also thoroughly demeaning.
I am based just west of York in the East Riding area. My partner Olya Dzhygyr, a Ukraine national, lives in Kiev. In my job as a musician, we have been lucky enough to travel all over Europe together for best part of the past two years. Our life together so far has been an adventure, full of all the care and love that anyone should be entitled to in a healthy relationship. Olya is also lucky enough to be able to work remotely for her company via laptop over a wife connection, which had always made things easier for her.
Obtaining visas for visits to other countries in Europe was never a problem, until we…
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